Four baby hedgehogs and their mother have been given sanctuary by a pensioner after the shed they were living in was knocked down.
The vulnerable family were handed to Joyce Kaiser, 82, who has dedicated herself to the preservation of the much-loved animals for 20 years.
Widowed Joyce said she plans to feed up the little hedgehogs as they are too small to survive hibernation.
She will provide them with food, shelter, and warm blankets at her home in Hartlepool during the colder months.
She said: “To be successful in hibernation, a hedgehog has to weigh 600 grammes.
“These autumn juveniles weigh around 130 grammes, so they don’t have enough time to make up that weight.
“I will keep them on heat mats because I don’t want them to hibernate.”
Each week Joyce buys mealworms, dried cat biscuits, powdered milk, ringworm treatment and antibiotics to feed the youngsters.
Some of these hoglets are so small they have to be fed by hand, and their bellies massaged to encourage healthy digestion.
Joyce added: “People bring these hedgehogs to me because they’re born very late in the season and they know they won’t make it through the winter.
“One of the things I’m trying to do is encourage everyone to set up feeding stations in their gardens.
“All you need is an upside-down plastic box with a hole for the hedgehog to go in. Put some food inside and some water nearby, and you’ll be doing your part to help hedgehogs survive.”
By Izzy Ferris